Editorial: Is academic radiology for you?

By Stuart E. Mirvis, MD, FACR
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Dr. Mirvis is the Editor-in-Chief of this journal and a Professor of Radiology, Diagnostic Imaging Department, University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, MD.

Residents and fellows often ask me whether they should pursue an academic or private practice career. It would be presumptuous of me to make a recommendation in most cases. Instead, I offer them this diagnostic test. Now, remember, to thine own self be true.

  1. Papers I wrote in my college literature courses came back with the following:
    1. All As with an offer of an English literature scholarship
    2. Bs with several comments in red
    3. What literature course?
    4. A note suggesting that I take English as a Foreign Language next semester
  2. When I speak in front of an audience:
    1. I get standing ovations.
    2. I am confident and articulate.
    3. My voice cracks, my mouth gets dry, and I sweat.
    4. I require IV anxiolytics and ß-blockers.
  3. If my submitted article is rejected:
    1. I learn from the reviewers' criticisms and improve my next submission.
    2. I am peeved and submit the article to another journal.
    3. I take the rejection very personally, burn the paper, and brood for weeks.
    4. I purchase a high-powered rifle with a telescopic sight.
  4. A meeting with colleagues is:
    1. A forum for exchanging fruitful research ideas.
    2. An opportunity for gossip and a free breakfast.
    3. A chance to sleep.
    4. A nightmare; I would rather rip out my fingernails with pliers.
  5. When a clinician asks for an inappropriate study, I respond by:
    1. Sitting down with the referring doctor and carefully explaining the pros and cons of the request.
    2. Calling the clinician and suggesting the appropriate study.
    3. Groaning and doing the study without comment, but bad mouthing the clinician to my colleagues.
    4. Taking him/her out to dinner and encouraging the creative use of imaging.
  6. To me, pimping the resident is:
    1. A variant of the Socratic method.
    2. Following my job description.
    3. A way to let them know who's boss.
    4. Better than kicking my dog.
  7. Lecturing at national and international meetings is:
    1. A way to teach and learn from the greater radiology community.
    2. A way to enhance my reputation.
    3. A way to get mandatory CME.
    4. A way to vacation with my wife or mistress.
  8. An academic promotion means:
    1. Recognition of my contributions to the field.
    2. More money and improved status.
    3. More work and responsibility.
    4. Writing "Associate" in place of "Assistant" on my business cards.
  9. Residents are:
    1. An opportunity to have fun and to educate the next generation.
    2. Cheap labor.
    3. Future competition.
    4. There to serve me coffee.
  10. Money:
    1. Is not as important as stature and recognition.
    2. Is fine, but I can't take it with me.
    3. Allows me to live comfortably.
    4. Is the key to my happiness and defines success.

Bonus Question

  1. To me, MRI means:
    1. Many Research Interests.
    2. Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
    3. Massive RVU Intensity.
    4. Mammoth Radiologic Income.

Now tally up your points:

  • For each answer A, give yourself 1 point.
  • For each answer B, give yourself 2 points.
  • For each answer C, give yourself 3 points.
  • For each answer D, give yourself 4 points.

For 11-17 points: Congratulations! You will have a 3-lb single-spaced CV, and you will be a Professor in 5 years.
For 18-27 points: Nice going-you will have a satisfying academic career.
For 28-37 points: You'd better think twice about an academic career.
For 38-44 points: Go straight to private practice, pass Go, and collect a million dollars.

I wish I had answered this questionnaire many years ago.

This questionnaire was designed with considerable help from: Dino Massoglia, MD, PhD, Sara Petrillo, MD, and Alex Flaxman, MD, MSE.

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Editorial: Is academic radiology for you?.  Appl Radiol. 

May 01, 2007
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